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December 6th, 2003, 08:59 AM #1
If Linkshare would like to improve their reputation in the affiliate community, there are two very easy things they could do:
1) Improve Reporting Reliability
2) Improve Turnaround Time on Checks
Although these may seem like fairly unimportant things (because reporting WILL eventually be updated and the checks WILL eventually arrive), they are very high-profile things for affiliates. These are the two things we see every day. We look at our reports to see how we did and we look in our mailboxes for the fruit of our labors.
Improve Reporting Reliability
Linkshare is usually fairly reliable and consistent with the reporting updates, but it seems like there are "glitches" several times a month. The reporting delays during the last week of November was especially bad, but smaller delays happen very regularly too.
Processing the transaction files into the reporting database should be a relatively simple process. I can't imagine what parts of the process are breaking down. Linkshare should be reviewing each one of these delays and working to improve the process.
Linkshare should either dedicate resources to the monitoring of these processes, or develop some automated tracking and notification systems so that they can stay on top of these problems.
When a problem is identified, they should have resources on call 24 hours a day to resolve the problems.
Affiliates should have enough confidence that the reporting will be timely and accurate that when problems happen they will say "This isn't like Linkshare" rather than "Are reports delayed AGAIN"?
Improve Turnaround Time on Checks
I'm not sure where the delays are here, but I suspect that there are delays at every level. I also suspect that Linkshare measures turnaround time internally from the wrong points. It needs to be measured from the instant the merchant's payment arrives to the time that the checks physically reach the post office (before the daily cutoff). Linkshare would do very well to set a goal of getting affiliate checks to the post office before the cutoff on the same day that the merchant's payment arrives, or possibly on the next day.
Linkshare should know in advance when many of their merchant payments are arriving, and they should know the amounts and what affiliate checks need to go out. When the payment arrives, whether by a mailed check, overnighted check or wire transfer, it should be a simple process to verify that the amount is right, check with the issuing bank to ensure that funds are available, and pass things on to the Accounts Payable department.
Once Accounts Payable receives the notification, they should be able to print the checks with a very minimal amount of work. This should be fairly automated. If it's not, you need to automate it. Accounts Payable shouldn't have to do much more than just select the merchant invoice, enter the memo line and date, load checks, and hit Print. If there's more to do than that, it's not automated enough yet.
Once the checks are printed, they should be put in envelopes and have postage applied. If you've already missed the cutoff for your mail to go out that day, send an employee or courier to the post office. Make that cutoff.
There's no reason affiliate checks can't be in the mail within 24 hours of receipt of the merchant's payment.
I know I'm making this a lot simpler than it is, but I hope Stephen and the others from regulars from Linkshare here on ABW will take a hard, honest look at what improvements (and automations) they can make in these high-profile areas.
December 7th, 2003, 08:37 AM #2
I agree with everything you have to say Michael, but who is going to implement these changes??!! Perhaps you should apply for a job at LS - that way we might see some improvement. I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with Linkshare these days. They used to be pretty good but now I think they are lagging way behind CJ when it comes to reporting and payments. If it wasn't for the fact that I had so many merchants I would flush them, as it's really not worth the aggravation one has to go through every single month!
December 7th, 2003, 07:01 PM #3
No thanks. I haven't had a J-O-B for almost four years now. I enjoy being here at home with my wife and 8-month old son.
I'm sure Linkshare has plenty of talented people who could streamline these processes. It's just a matter of priorities.
Linkshare used to be my favorite network. I used to recommend them to most merchants who asked for my opinion, and MANY merchants would ask. They were very innovative and they had (and still have) very good merchants. But I feel like they've really lagged behind the other networks in the past year. The other networks have taken great strides, while Linkshare seems to have become complacent.
I think they can turn things around, though. They still have the same great leadership that got them where they are today. They just need to regain their focus and their innovative edge.
December 8th, 2003, 10:12 AM #4
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